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Guide to Choosing the PERFECT Business Name
So you want to know how to make your life easier?
I have the answer! Whether you have already chosen a business name or you are in the process of choosing a business name, it is never as simple as picking a name you like and buying a domain extension. Well, it can be, but you can add so much more monetary worth to your business if you follow these simple, yet often overlooked steps.
The first step relates to choosing a name for your business. If you have already chosen a name, you can skip ahead to step 2.
Choosing a name is often the most stressful part of starting a business. You spend days, weeks, months trying to think of a name that everyone will remember, only to find that all the names you think of aren't any good after 24 hours because you keep changing your mind. Here are a few tips to help you create a name.
- Think of words: Create a list of names that you like the look and sound of. These words can be later joined with other words to create a new word.
- Create word combinations: Try Lean Domain Search to see if there are any quality word combinations available for registration. The site works by recommending domain names with the suggested word that you have chosen. For example, if you type in 'Jade' then hit search, it will recommend domain names that are available with the word Jade in it such as 'JadeManager' or 'Jadeology'.
- Create new words: If you can't find a word using Lean Domain Search, try Wordoid.com to generate fictitious word derivations. Enter the letters you like into the search field and it will display new words created using those letters you entered, which have a domain available for purchase. The purpose of using these tools is to study the generated results in order to build an understanding of how your keywords can be branded into company names.
The second step is to short list your names by checking the domain name registers for availability of all domain extensions for purchase. You can do this through various sites such as Crazy Domains and GoDaddy.
This step IS IMPORTANT and shouldn't be overlooked. The most ideal situation is that the '.com' + '.com.au' + '.net' + '.net.au' + '.info' and any other relevant extensions are all available. If the most important domains (.com and .com.au) are not available BUT you really want to purchase the remaining domains anyway, you will need to investigate who owns the unavailable domains and assess whether their business will lead customers away from your business (or will confuse customers about whether or not they are visiting your website). You may also want to reconsider whether that name makes the shortlist, particularly if you want to sell your product or service to overseas customers or possibly sell your business in the future.
If the domains are available, you should buy all of the extensions as a precautionary measure to preclude anyone else purchasing them and directing traffic away from you or misrepresenting you ($12 a year is cheaper than a legal battle in court). A perfect example of this is Taylor Swift who buys pornography domain names with her name in it so people can't create porn sites using her name!
The third step is required and often overlooked by business owners. This step involves undertaking a Trade Mark Search to see if anyone else owns the trade mark (or one substantially similar) to the business name or slogan you want to use in the same class of goods or services. This step is very important when considering the future worth of your business and the risk of litigation if you are infringing on someone else's trade mark.
This is where it gets a little complicated so stay with me. The goods or services you are offering fall within ‘classes’ that IP Australia have established. It is important to check whether your goods or services already have the same (or similar) trade mark lodged or approved in the SAME class as you will be operating in. This includes different types of spelling and also whether it sounds the same if you say it out loud.
An example would be if you were to apply for the trade mark 'Shaw Thing Rentals' in class 41, you would need to check whether the spelling 'Sure Thing Rentals' and 'Shore Thing Rentals' were already lodged or approved in class 41. If the trade mark searches do not display any results, there is a good chance you can now buy your chosen business name domain and apply for a trade mark.
If you already have a business name, it is very important to undertake this step without delay to ensure you aren't infringing upon someone else's trade mark. If you are infringing upon someone else's trade mark, there is a risk you could be sued by the owner of the trade mark for infringing on their intellectual property rights. If you are not infringing upon anyone's trade mark and the trade mark is available for registration, it would be a good idea to apply for the trade mark to secure your intellectual property rights for the future.
If you are unsure about your businesses position with regard to intellectual property rights, please seek advice from a legal practitioner or get in touch with us and we will assist you by putting you in touch with the necessary contacts.
The fourth step is to conduct before selecting your business name is a Business Name search with ASIC for your proposed Business Name. The search results will advise whether or not that business name has been registered with ASIC in Australia.
It is important to note that registering a Business Name is different to registering a Trade Mark. You can find a great explanation of the differences here, however, in short, registering a business, company or domain name does not give you any proprietary or exclusive rights over the name. Only a trade mark can provide proprietary protection allowing you to take legal action against anyone infringing your trade mark by using it without your consent, if the business name owner uses it for goods or services in THE SAME class as your trade mark registration.
The last step is to ensure that the Social Media extensions are available. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and any other platforms (such as Pinterest) that you may use. Why have I mentioned this? Because it is VERY often overlooked and when you want to set up the social media page at a later date, the name isn't available which can be frustrating to say the least! Prevention is better than a cure and more cost effective too.
By now your massive list of names is probably down to two or three and you can't choose between those couple of names. If that's the case, ask your closest friends and family what they think of the name, what feeling it invokes in them and whether it is memorable. You may need to repeat this process several times before you can find the right business name that ticks all of these boxes.
Protecting and managing your IP is important when launching your product or service in the market and affects your businesses worth to investors now and in the future. Putting in the effort now to ensure you have ticked the boxes for all of the above steps now will ensure your business is protected from the risk of being sued and will provide you with rights for the life of your business, and beyond.
If you require any assistance with your business name or set-up, contact us! We would love to hear from you.
To your ongoing success.
JAN 28, 2016